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What tests are standard after treatment?

Posts: 270
Joined: Jul 2001

I had a lumpectomy, finished chemo, finished radiation. Now what tests should the doctor order to verify that the cancer is gone? Last time I saw my Onc. I asked if I was cancer free. He said he would think yes and that once I finished radiation (6/26) he would order some tests. I read about people having bone scans and cat scans etc. I never had one before treatment ... is that normal ...He said I'd have tumor marker blood test, mammogram and a chest x-ray. Is there something else I should insist upon having?

Posts: 262
Joined: Feb 2001

It depends on what type of cancer; if lymph nodes were involved; your age; estrogen positive or negative; her2neu positive or negative. Most oncologists will finish up treatment with a CAT scan to make doubly sure there is no other involvement. If estrogen positive - Tamoxifen or similar med. will be prescribed. I prefer to err on the side of caution. I just know too many people who did not show any signs of matastizes and a few months or a year down the road something was found. It does not show up in organs or other breast in the blood tests when in beginning stages. There is a type of cancer called Inflammatory Breast Cancer that usually does not form a lump. Just appears on the surface of the skin as small nodules and redness, etc. I was just on this web site and they were encouraging everyone to warn people about this type of cancer--because there is usually no lump. The skin around area also develops an orange peel texture and breast seems larger; & nimple starts inverting. We can't live in fear, but we must live with more awareness of what our body looks like and always check out changes or abnormal pains that don't go away within a couple of weeks. I also read that a one centimeter malignant tumor expresses millions of cancer cells into the body. The body's own defense system or the treatment hopefully kills them all, but sometimes a few of these monsters go dormant somewhere and reactivates later for reasons still not fully understood. Please believe me I am not trying to upset you or scare you - but to inform you because knowledge is our best defense.
May God bless you and keep you well.

pamtriggs's picture
Posts: 407
Joined: Sep 2000

Having no bone scans or CT's before treatment is not normal. If they don't know where you were how do they know where you are when you have finished treatment. Seems a bit slap dash to me. I have had all the tests at the start & have them repeated before each new treatment so they know if the treatment has had any effect. Tumor marker tests are normal & if you were hormone positive they should suggest Tamoxifen for 5 years as a preventative. Annual mammo's & CT & bone scans should also be performed for at least 5 years. Good luck & glad you are in remission - you are never cured I am sorry to say. Love Pam

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